PRISM is a word that most of us have heard by now. It is the program that the NSA has used where all our email and phone calls are tracked. What is being debated since the leak of all this information is what is more important, being secure from terrorist attacks or our privacy. For me the privacy aspect takes be back to the 4th Amendment of the Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
On June 6, an article in the Huffington Post exposed the extent of how far reaching the PRISM program really is. Here is an excerpt:
In summer 2002, Klein was working in an office responsible for Internet equipment when an NSA representative arrived to interview a management-level technician for a special, secret job.
The job entailed building a "secret room" in another AT&T office 10 blocks away, he said. By coincidence, in October 2003, Klein was transferred to that office. He asked a technician about the secret room on the sixth floor, and the technician told him it was connected to the Internet room a floor above. The technician handed him wiring diagrams.
The diagram showed splitters glass prisms that split signals from each network into two identical copies. One copy fed into the secret room. The other proceeded to its destination, he said.
"This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style," he said. "The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T's customers, but everybody's."
It must be noted that this is prior to the launch of PRISM in 2007. It is one thing to tap lines and follow emails of known and suspected terrorist. It is another thing to retrieve everything that happens across the internet.
I am not naive to think there is such a thing as complete privacy when it comes to the internet but I also don't believe that complete security exists either. I support my government and law officials work to thwart crime but only within the bounds set by the constitution.
I prefer my privacy over my security. Yes, I prefer my privacy over my security. I have complete confidence in the CIA and the FBI but I do not believe (and I could be wrong) that the government needs to track all my calls and all my online activities to stop a terrorist.
I am a law abiding citizen and until the Constitution is amended I will stand by the 4th amendment and require that law officials must provide a warrant to track my online activities. If I was a convicted criminal, that would be different. If you chose to break the law then you have every right to expect to lose your rights but when millions of Americans follow the laws of the land the government has no right to look into people's private lives.
I recently watched a series on PBS titled, "Constitution USA with Peter Sagal"
(The series is over now but you can get it on DVD for $29.99. I highly recommend this) But that aside the series impressed upon me how unique our country is and what we have in the Constitution is a very groundbreaking document. With that my rights are very important to me and even when the first Patriot Act was passed I was very bothered by it. For me if laws are passed by Congress that start to chip away at our guaranteed rights under the Constitution then I fear this Democracy we have in America, what makes us unique compared to other countries, will slowly slip away.
Yes, the Patriot Act makes the PRISM program legal, but is it right? It stands on shaking ground when we ask if it is constitutional. It is on shaking ground because no warrant was ever issued to me or any other American citizen, as far as I know, before tracking our phone calls and following our email. That for me is a violation of my 4th Amendment right and causes me to distrust my government and wonder if they are really doing this for my best interest.
So what about you? Do you prefer your privacy or your security? And why?